I decided to try something a little different on a recent photowalk with some friends in downtown Austin. While I was walking down 6th Street looking for good compositions, I started to notice some really interesting reflections. Things took on an intriguing look when reflected back from the dark windows of bars and parked cars.
The first scene caught my attention because of the curtains hanging in the window. They created a neat textured look on this street scene. The street lights and neon sign provided just enough illumination to reveal the Friday night partygoers walking down the street. The slow shutter speed added blur to the people, adding a sense of motion.
I saw this next reflected scene in the rear window of a minivan parked along the street. This image adds some complexity because the street is visible through the windows, as well as being reflected. The interior of the minivan adds additional dark shapes that further convolute the image in a way that may lead the viewer to look deeper and question what is reflected and what is directly visible. The effect might lead one to believe that multiple exposures were blended.
This last image is deceptively intricate. It is largely a reflection on a glass doorway, with part of the street outside visible through glass. The negative dark space is an unlighted area off to the side of the door. I saw this image as three distinct components, almost broken into thirds: the street through the glass, the interior reflected, and a dark void. The angle at which this was shot serves to overlay some of the interior elements in the bar over the outdoor part of the image. The intermingling of the reflected and directly visible components blurs the lines of reality and invites a closer look.
In all of these images, the reflected imagery is the subject of the composition. I chose angles that provided the right amount of opacity to allow some complimentary elements to be visible through the glass. Standing at an angle to the glass kept my own reflection from view. Because the images are predominantly dark with bright lighting in few places, the camera metering will probably blow the highlights badly. I shot in aperture priority mode and used exposure compensation to underexpose a bit from the metered reading and minimize blown highlights. A fast lens (Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7) was used to capture as much light as possible while keeping my ISO down. I used my Olympus E-PL1 and kept the ISO at 400 to minimize noise. Shutter speeds will be slow in situations like this, so image stabilization is a big help.
Next time you are out on the town, take some time to look for interesting reflections. You might be surprised at the things you discover in a world reflected.